Three reasons Newmarket beat Kanturk to win the PIFC title

Mark Woods looks at the key factors in the 0-12 to 0-11 victory at Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Three reasons Newmarket beat Kanturk to win the PIFC title

Newmarket's Conor O'Keeffe is tackled by Kanturk's Liam Cashman. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

1. Character

Call it what you will, heart, guts, commitment, courage or sheer bloody-mindedness, the new champions had it in spades. How else do you describe those crazy last four minutes, when Kanturk stood on the edges of greatness only to be toppled by Conor O’Keeffe’s brilliant equaliser before cousin Ryan O’Keeffe slotted over the winner? 

And even then, Newmarket had to throw bodies on the line to deny their neighbours from snatching a last-gasp equaliser of their own.

2. Finishers 

The pressure on inside forwards these days is immense, regardless of grade or importance of the occasion. In a county final against neighbours you know closely, it becomes almost pressure-cooker in its intensity, but the likes of main sharp-shooter Conor O’Keeffe, namesake Ian and Barry O’Connor stood up to be counted when it mattered most. 

Conor, the championship’s leading scorer, showed he was in the zone from the moment he kicked his opening free after three minutes while O’Connor kicked two excellent points during a tense and tight opening half. And credit, too, Ryan O’Keeffe for remaining the calmest person in the stadium in steering over the winning point and his place in Newmarket folklore.

3. Tactics 

Newmarket set out their stall early on by adopting the modern way of playing, dropping lots of players behind the ball, when Kanturk had possession, before counter-attacking at pace. 

And they used that speed late on, as well, after Kanturk’s greater physicality might have given us a different story.

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